SC  Rejects ED's Plea Against Kejriwal, Citing Political Remark as Within Bail Terms

SC Rejects ED's Plea Against Kejriwal, Citing Political Remark as Within Bail Terms

The Supreme Court dismissed the Enforcement Directorate's request for action against Arvind Kejriwal, who is currently out on bail. The court's rationale was that the Delhi Chief Minister's statement, "If you vote for AAP (when Delhi's seven Lok Sabha seats poll next week), I won't have to go back to jail," did not breach his bail conditions.

The court informed the federal agency that Mr. Kejriwal's comment was deemed his personal opinion, stating, "It is his assumption... we cannot say anything. Our order (on the Chief Minister returning to jail on June 2) is clear. That is the decision of this court (and) we will be governed by the rule of law..."

The court, having heard arguments from the ED regarding the potential precedent of granting bail to arrested political leaders for election campaigning, emphasized that it had not made any "exceptions."

"We have not made any exceptions. We welcome criticism of (our) decision (but) we will not go into this issue. Our order is clear... we have set the dates... also given reasons for granting interim bail."

The court refused the request to revoke bail and order Mr Kejriwal to jail.

Earlier, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta contended that Mr. Kejriwal, during his campaign, had stated, "... if you vote for AAP, I won't have to go back to jail..." He asserted, "This is a clear violation of conditions set by the court. It is a slap in the face of the judiciary."

In response on behalf of Mr. Kejriwal, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi highlighted that senior union ministers, whom he chose not to name, had made various statements against his client.

During his party's campaign on Monday, Mr. Kejriwal expressed his apprehension of being imprisoned again if the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance were to win the 2024 Lok Sabha election. He also asserted that attempts were made to "break and humiliate" him after he was sent to Delhi's Tihar Jail.

"I have to go back to jail on June 2. I will be watching the results (of the election) on June 4 from jail. If you make INDIA bloc (the Congress-led opposition grouping of which the AAP is a member) win, I will come back on June 5. If there is lack of effort, let us see when we will meet," he had said.

The court last week also snubbed a petition seeking Mr Kejriwal's removal.

A bench comprising Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice Dipankar Datta asserted that it was within the purview of Delhi Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena to take action if intervention was deemed necessary, and declined to interfere. The court stated that the petition lacked legal merit and emphasized, "Ultimately it is a matter of propriety." Mr. Kejriwal was granted bail last week following the Supreme Court's ruling that the AAP leader, in his capacity as a sitting Chief Minister, was not deemed a "habitual offender" and therefore could be permitted to campaign for his party.

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